Former Robinhood Crypto Compliance Chief Said to Join Cross River (1)

The former chief crypto compliance officer for Robinhood Markets Inc. has landed a new job at Cross River Bank, a regional lender that services fintech companies, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Benjamin Melnicki is head of crypto compliance and regulation for Fort Lee, New Jersey-based Cross River, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the move has not been publicly disclosed. Melnicki left Robinhood in December and joined Cross River in May, the people said.

Robinhood has cut 9% of its staff, about 340 employees, as the online trading platform has racked up losses of about $2 billion since going public last summer, Bloomberg News reported in April. Shares of the Menlo Park, California-based company are down 58% this year.

Robinhood has sought to streamline its operations and restart around new lines of business, such as crypto, which was largely spared from job cuts. Robinhood’s brokerage arm introduced a crypto wallet in May to allow users to access decentralized finance applications and non-fungible tokens.

Cross River works with some of the largest fintech startups, including cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc., Bloomberg News reported last year.

The lender, whose parent company is CRB Group Inc., announced in late March the closing of a $620 million investment round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and billionaire investment firm Todd Boehly Eldridge Industries LLC. .

Sullivan & Cromwell and Hunton Andrews Kurth advised Cross River on fundraising. The bank said it would use the funds to expand its operations in four key areas: integrated payments, cards, loans and cryptocurrencies.

Robinhood Departures

Melnicki is one of several attorneys who recently left Robinhood.

Weilyn Wood stepped down as associate general counsel and deputy corporate secretary in May to become deputy general counsel for corporations at software company Confluent Inc. Wood was one of three Robinhood in-house attorneys listed in the company’s prospectus for an initial public offering that raised $2.1 billion.

Daniel Feldstein, associate general counsel for employment at Robinhood, left in January to become deputy general counsel for cryptocurrency custodian and blockchain trust company Prime Trust LLC.

Piret Loone, Robinhood’s deputy general counsel, left the company in December to become San Francisco-based general counsel and interim chief compliance officer for stealthy fintech startup Link Financial Technologies Inc.

Feldstein and Loone joined Robinhood in 2020. Robinhood declined to comment on personnel matters.

Robinhood reorganization

Daniel Gallagher Jr., head of Robinhood’s legal department, took on the new title of chief legal, compliance and corporate affairs officer in January, the company said in its most recent proxy statement filed in May.

Gallagher joined Robinhood’s board in 2019 before being named chief legal officer the following year. He was not listed in the proxy as one of the company’s top six highest-paid executives last year, though Robinhood revealed a $30 million pay package for Gallagher in 2020.

Robinhood recently recruited a deputy general counsel for Cooley in Walker Newell, a former US Securities and Exchange Commission attorney who had come under the crosshairs of tech mogul Elon Musk, Bloomberg Law reported last month.

Eric Burt, a former consulting attorney with legal staffing firm Axiom Global Inc., also joined Robinhood in May as associate general counsel for companies, securities and transactions.

Robinhood this month welcomed Nada Bseikri as deputy general counsel for privacy and data protection. Most recently, she was Deputy General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer at Apple Bank for Savings in New York.

The company also hired Gabriella Geanuleas this month as deputy general counsel for litigation, compliance and investigations. She spent the last seven years as a trial attorney for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Melnicki’s role in running compliance for Robinhood’s crypto team has been taken over by James Nguyen, who has been president and general counsel of the company’s crypto division. Norman Ashkenas, a lawyer hired by Robinhood in September 2020 to serve as chief compliance officer for its brokerage business, was also named chief compliance officer for all Robinhood-related entities in January.

Melnicki

Robinhood recruited Melnicki last year from Grayscale Investments, a digital asset manager currently fighting the SEC over his cryptocurrency-related business plans.

Grayscale hired Melnicki as its chief compliance officer in early 2021 from Ripple Labs Inc., a San Francisco-based technology company that is also fighting the SEC over a proposal to register digital assets as securities.

Melnicki, who was a regulatory advisor and head of regulatory affairs for the Americas at Ripple, previously worked at Bank of America Corp., Cantor Fitzgerald and Noble Bank International de Puerto Rico.

Leave a Comment